For Failure To Renew Operational License: Gov’t Shutdown Root FM – As Henry Costa Supporters Stone Another Radio Station
By Lincoln Barcon
One of Liberia’s famous radio stations, Roots FM owned and operated by Talk-Show Host Henry P. Costa has been shut-down by the Monrovia City Court; as several radio equipment were retrieved from the station.
The Monrovia City Court yesterday in its writ cited that the radio station is in violation of various regulations of the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) specifically under the Liberian Laws.
The writ from the Monrovia City Court further ordered that the Sheriff of the Court search from 0600 to 1800 in the premises of the management of Roots FM (102.7), 102.5 and 102.1 and those acting under its control located in Monrovia.
According to the writ of search, “the purpose of this request is for the discovery and seizure of mixer, microphones, headphones, computers, stabilizers, cables antennas (one bay-four bay amplifiers generators etc) which are believed to be in these premises.”
The court further instructed the sheriff to bring all the items to the court in keeping with the laws but the Ministry of Justice filed a petition search, seizure and arrest warrant for the Management of Roots FM 102.7 by and thru its General Manager, Station Manager and all those acting under its control, followed by 102.5 and 102.1.
The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice said the court should arrest all those operating the station because they were operating illegally, and violating Section 15 of the Telecommunications Act of 2007 and chapter 11 sections 11.29(d) of the criminal procedure law of Liberia.
In count two of the government’s petition, “Petitioners maintains that as a consequences of its compliance to the exercise of freedom of speech as provided for in the 1986 constitution of the Republic of Liberia has currently experienced the upsurge of numerous radio stations and print institutions as well the despicable usage of the social media without no broadcaster (s), social media user (s) and journalist (s) being arrested despite all the negative insinuations and comments against the petitioner”.
The government also pointed out that the said frequencies are in violation of Chapter 11 Section 11.2 (d) of the Criminal Procedure law and a violation LTA Act of 2007 which states that, “No person shall own or operate a telecommunication network use to provide a telecommunication service to the public for direct or indirect compensation, except under and in accordance with a licensee or an exemption order issued by the LTA”.
There were mix reactions from the public over the shutting down of Roots FM, as the Sheriff of the court attempted to forcibly open the doors of the station.
Mr. Costa who is said to be the manager of the station was heard on the radio station calling on his supporters to disallow the court from entering the premises of the station which led to serious commotion between officers of Liberia National Police and Costa’s supporters.
Some citizens passing by and watching the action hail the LNP for the action while others were in total disagreement over the shutting-down of the station, as some of his supporters were seeing throwing stones at the Freedom FM at the intersection of Benson and Randall Streets.
In an interview with the MONROVIA TIMES, a supporter of Costa accused the Freedom FM Communication Incorporated of also operating illegally though he could not show prove of what he was alleging.
According to Costa supporters they are going to protest until the Freedom FM radio station is closed. But up-to press time the officers of the LNP were resisting the rioters from damaging the property of the Freedom FM radio station.
But the supporters of Costa were seen throwing stones at LNP’s officers continuously while the riot police on the scene were also throwing tear gas to dispatch crowd as a backup for the court sheriff to leave the station after search and seizure.
After news broke-up on the shutting-down of Roots FM, it created serious tension in Monrovia and the situation led to several businesses closing down.
Roots FM is located just around Ashmun and Johnson streets intersection and also adjacent the True Wing Party’s headquarters in Monrovia.